Both a perk and a drawback of electric cars is the refueling system; you either have to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,500 getting an EV charger installed in your home, or hope there are enough public charging stations to go around. A new option has emerged from Envision Solar called the EV ARC, a portable, solar-powered EV charging station.
Tipping the scales at some 10,000 pounds, there isn’t an electric car for sale that could tow the “portable” EV ARC charging system anywhere. You’re looking at using either a big diesel or gas-powered V8 to get this charging station around. Most of that weight comes from a 22 kWh battery pack, inverter, and huge solar array that can capture up to 16 kWh of energy per day.
The solar array can rotate on its own, allowing it to capture 25% more energy, says Envision, and currently the EV ARC uses Eaton chargers. There is enough battery capacity to recharge most low-end EVs (like say, the Nissan Leaf) per day, though the 22 kWh capacity would only deliver about a quarter-charge to a Tesla Model S with the 85 kWh battery pack.
Given the EV ARC’s $40,000 price tag, Tesla owners are about the only people that can afford it. Envision execs say they could halve the price tag with a large order for say, a municipal government or corporate order, and the solar charger will eventually pay for itself. But if you ask me, the real potential lies in military applications. The U.S. armed forces are exploring the use of solar energy at both Forward Operating Bases and at major military installations to offset the use of fuel-intensive generators.
Think about it; a small Army outpost that could deploy its own vehicular refueling station anywhere there is access to sunlight. That could save resources, and lives.
But as a commercial-viable product for the average EV consumer? At $40,000, or even $20,000 it’s a long shot.